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What Should my Sleeping Pad R-Value be when Camping?

If you’re planning a camping or backpacking trip and are wondering what your sleeping pad R-value should be, we’ve got you covered. Because not every inflatable sleeping pad will keep you comfortable in every season. Indeed, some are perfectly suitable for summer nights, while others contain more insulation for colder seasons. You can purchase several sleeping pads for different temperatures, or sometimes (if cold temps aren’t too extreme) get away with stacking a closed-cell foam pad with an inflatable pad. But if you’re expecting overnight lows colder than about 40-50º Fahrenheit, you’re gonna want something a little more robust, namely, an insulated sleeping pad (check out these four insulated sleeping pads we tested).

So here’s a handy chart to help you figure out what your sleeping pad R-value should be to keep you cozy all night long.

What Should my Sleeping Pad R-Value be when Camping?

Air Temp (F)50403020100
Air Temp (C)104-1-6-12-18
Sleep Pad Min. R-ValueUnder 22-33-44-55-66 or higher
30 or lower20 or lower15 or lower
*Based on data from REI and field testing.

And don’t forget about a sleeping bag! You should make sure to use one that’s rated for at least as cold as the overnight lows, possibly lower (sleeping bag temperature ratings can be trickier than they seem; read about how to decipher them in this post). Don’t have a sleeping bag that’s quite suitable? Bump up your current bag’s rating a few degrees or a few dozen with one of these sleeping bag liners.

We hope this chart helps you choose the best sleep pad with an appropriate R-value for camping, no matter where (or when) you’re headed outdoors so you can get out there and wander on.